Road Safety News

New legislation introduced to cut Scotlandís drink drive limit

Friday 24th October 2014

Kenny MacAskill, Scotland’s justice secretary, has introduced an order in Parliament which, subject to approval, will mean a reduced drink-drive limit will come into effect on 5 December 2014.

Under the plans, Scotland’s blood alcohol limit will reduce from 80mg in every 100 ml of blood, to 50 mg in every 100 ml of blood, bringing Scotland into line with most other European countries.

The Scottish Government previously announced its intention to reduce the limit following a consultation which found almost three quarters of those who responded believed the drink-drive limit should be reduced.

The consultation responses suggested the likely benefits of a lower limit would be fewer road collisions and casualties. There are currently 20 drink-drive related deaths annually on Scotland’s roads.

A marketing campaign to raise awareness of the new lower limit will be launched in the coming weeks.

Kenny MacAskill said: “I have said before that I am determined we do everything we can to make our roads safer and save lives.

“The latest estimates show that approximately one in 10 deaths on Scottish roads involve drivers who are over the legal limit and research shows that even just one alcoholic drink before driving can make you three times as likely to be involved in a fatal car crash.

“As a result, 20 families every year have to cope with the loss of a loved one and around 760 people are treated for injuries caused by someone who thought it was acceptable to drink alcohol and get behind the wheel and drive. We cannot let this continue.

“That’s why I have today introduced legislation to lower the drink drive limit in Scotland so that, subject to parliamentary approval, new laws will be in place in time for the beginning of the festive period.

“This new limit will bring Scotland into line with most of Europe and send a clear message to drivers who continue to ignore the warnings that there is never an excuse to drink and drive.

“Lowering the drink drive limit will help make Scotland’s roads safer. It is the right thing to do, and most importantly, it will save lives meaning that fewer families have to go through the heartache of a loved one lost”.

Sandy Allan, RoSPA’s road safety manager in Scotland, said: “RoSPA welcomes and strongly supports the Scottish Government’s decision to lower the drink-drive limit in Scotland, which we believe will save lives and prevent injuries on Scotland’s roads.

“There is a considerable body of research which shows that reducing drink-drive limits is effective in reducing drink-drive deaths and injuries. We would like to see the rest of the UK follow Scotland’s example.”


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My concern is the typical half facts and stats. How many fatalities are caused by drivers that have drank an amount approx somewhere between a pint and a half pint? Very few drink related road deaths will be caused by someone with between 50 and 80mg. The impact of this will be another nail in the coffin for local pubs as midweek drinking will be a thing of the past. Even the 19th hole will cease to exist as a single drink is now illegal so already struggling golf clubs will lose income. Coming on the back of the plastic bag law which was clearly not thought through this makes me wish Scotland had less powers not more.
Donald Glasgow

Agree (7) | Disagree (0)

Few will disagree with the introduction of a lower limit. But where it fails, as is typical of the Scottish Government, is to create inconsistency. The consultation outlined a number of corresponding amendments required to make this work - the RTA and a new licence offence code to name but two. But the legislation is inept, failing to address these issues. Introduction before Xmas has everything to do with meeting targets for securing convictions and nothing to do with ensuring all changes are in place.
Alan Perth

Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

You are quite right Terry but it was you who brought in the so called 'emotive' rhetoric defence. What I described was a true account of an accident victim in 1969. I know, I was the young 19 year old officer charged with telling the woman of the circumstances that I outlined.

You are also correct in stating that the law was not well received but as you also say, and I agree, that time moves on and I believe that there is growing support for a change in legislation that will bring about a nil by mouth situation. After all, as I stated it's been nearly 40 years since and 4 generation have grown up with the legislation so it won't be seen as draconian to implement a nil policy. I await that time with anticipation but I won't hold my breath.
bob craven Lancs

Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

I see Bob that you had to drag "emotive' rhetoric into the argument as I suggested always happens.

Nobody is condoning drunk drivers, but to lower the limit which has been around for nearly five decades is just going to create more 'criminals' for no real benefit to society in general, especially for those caught at the very lowest readings. After all thousands of accidents are caused by perfectly sober drivers, having a drink is not going to stop people having these 'everyday' accidents, just that this time the cause will be blamed on 'drunk-driver' and the real cause not investigated. Driving five miles across London with thousands of hazards, is different to five miles across a rural road with say a few dozen hazards. Just as the police ask for discretion in doing their job, why are magistrates denied similar powers of discretion? The one year mandatory ban was introduced at the same time the law was introduced, because the transport minister at the time feared the magistrates would not come down hard enough on this un-loved law and decided to take these discretionary powers away. But things have now moved on.
Terry Hudson, Kent

Agree (1) | Disagree (7)

I will give credit where credit's due but can you really expect a pat on the back for all the drunk driving that still goes on and has ever since the legislation basically gave a freedom to drink and drive? The incidents, the accidents, the collisions, the injuries and the deaths - and then say some 40 years later that steps are being taken in the right direction. Just how many more lives will be ruined by this inactivity and reluctance by those in power to do the right thing?

And Terry, if you have ever been a police officer having to tell a mother of three that she is now a widow and her kids are fatherless due to one too many, and that it wasn't his fault he was hit by the drunk driver who is okay and unhurt, then you will realise the truth of the matter and the emotions and lives ruined. With no return. So please leave you platitudes elsewhere and don't bring them onto this forum.

And Michael I stand by my words. I have no master to doff my cap to. I also believe that my comments in the main are well accepted on this forum and in general. Thank you for warning me though that I may lose all credibility by not supporting your programme. Do I care?]
bob craven Lancs

Agree (5) | Disagree (5)

Another step nearer to being forced into a monastic lifestyle! With the usual emotive arguments and carefully chosen statistics.
Terry Hudson, Kent

Agree (6) | Disagree (10)

I agree with both Michael's and Bob's comments, but I think Bob's carries slightly more weight because of the way in which many drivers think. I listened to a chap being interviewed on Radio 4 when the story broke, and he was saying how he regularly crossed the border into Scotland and he faced the ludicrous situation of being under the English limit and over the Scottish one on the same journey. In order to deal with that level of intelligence there ought to be but one message - 'Any alcohol before driving is too much.'
David, Suffolk

Agree (6) | Disagree (5)

Bob, it would be nice if you gave credit where credit is due. At least in Scotland we are heading in the right direction. Furthermore, our messaging has always been the safe limit is none and that will remain at the forefront of all campaigns. Such negativity about this move could call into question your credibility on many issues.
Michael, Edinburgh

Agree (11) | Disagree (6)

I have to say from my own perspective making a limit is just a waste of time and as I have said before encouraging people to have that first drink is the problem. From there they will decide whether they are ok to have another, maybe some time after the first or shortly after it in the presumption that they are not going to have another before driving and so it goes on.

Thus to my mind the legislation encourages drink and drive by encouraging the first drink and enabling a person to consume alcohol that can impair judgment. The only way to attempt to put a stop to it is to say absolutely do not drink and drive ever. Then, and only then, will people understand the possible consequences of his or her actions.
bob craven Lancs

Agree (13) | Disagree (9)